2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: 16 NHL Teams from Best to Worst

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs pool was finalized Wednesday when Dallas edged Arizona in overtime. Odds to win the Cup plus first round matchups for the Stanley Cup Playoffs are now locking in as the regular season ends this weekend. My 2022 NHL Playoffs preview digs into the contenders, from the high-flying Avalanche to a Los Angeles Kings team that could surprise you in the first round.

Stanley Cup Playoffs betting preview tampa bay lightning

Tampa’s scoring leader Steven Stamkos and his Lightning teammates are set to defend their back-to-back Stanley Cup titles

16 Teams Enter Ring for 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin on Monday, May 2 this season. It’s a little later than usual due to an Olympic break which turned more into an excuse for Covid makeup games, but the players don’t care how they got here. At this point, their entire focus is on figuring out how to dig deep, find that extra gear and do whatever it takes to win a Cup.

2022 Stanley Cup Winner Odds: Favorites

While researching what teams are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the top favorite to win the Cup with online sportsbooks across the board is the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have earned two league titles since moving from Quebec but the most recent was in 2001, and that’s a 21-year drought they’d like to end now.

Colorado Avalanche +300

Central Division champs, Colorado is a Top 5 offense with a power play that ranks #6 at 24.4%. With 119 points, they have surpassed the previous all-time high of 118 set by the Cup-winning team in 2001. Playing with a home ice advantage like no other, the Avs are poised to make a serious run.

  • The Avs lead the Western Conference with 32 home wins this season

This team has been building momentum as the season moved along, posting an unbelievable January record of 15-0-1 and then going 24-10-4 since. They’ve withstood a couple injuries to superstars but are relatively healthy now, with reports suggesting winger Gabriel Landeskog (knee) could be ready to rejoin the lineup by early May.

Florida Panthers +550

The Florida Panthers burst out of the gate with eight-straight wins to start the season, and have been sniffing around top spot in the Eastern Conference ever since.

  • Florida is 23-4-1 (.821) the past two months, scoring an average of 4.3 goals per game (GPG)

The Panthers lead the league in home wins (34) and they dominated the East this season with a 37-9-3 record. If Florida can survive through the first three rounds, there’ll be questions about the teams ability to match up against a more physical opponent but the fact is that only two of the top 11 NHL teams in terms of ‘hits per game’ hail from the West (Preds, Hawks). The Panthers are the real deal.  

Calgary Flames +850

It has been a breakout year for the Flames, and HC Darryl Sutter consistently finds ways to get the best out of his lineup.

  • Calgary ranks Top 10 in scoring (3.6 GPG), shots (35.6), power play (23.5%) and goals against (2.50 GPGA)

As top seed in the Pacific, Calgary will be a dangerous first round matchup and in their past three home games, the Flames have outscored their guests 19-6.

Toronto Maple Leafs +900

Failing to advance past the first round since 2004, this team has become a poster child for choking when it matters most. And I’m not going to wax nostalgic about it. Until Googling ‘When is the last time the Maple Leafs won a playoff series’ isn’t trending on the first page every April, this group of perennial letdowns is either a STAY AWAY or a FADE.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eyes on the Prize

All four teams in this group represent potential value plays for a futures investor that insists on odds of 10-to-1 or better.

Carolina Hurricanes +1000

The Canes’ top scorer, Sebastian Aho, ranks 30th overall with 80 points, but that didn’t stop them from winning the Metro while setting an all-time franchise record of 114 points. Goaltending is the major issue surrounding this group, with Frederik Anderson unlikely to return for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Without Anderson, it’ll be tough to keep up in a first round matchup vs. the Boston Bruins.

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Tampa Bay Lightning +1100

The Lightning entered Thursday’s action on a 6-1 run, getting hot just in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  • From April 22 to their Cup clinching win over Montreal last season, the Bolts were 22-10 and they allowed just 2.3 GPG

Please don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Edmonton Oilers +1350

HC Jay Woodcroft took over the Oilers on Feb. 10 and since then, his team is 24-9-3. The Oilers have scored 3.9 GPG but the kicker is that they’ve only allowed 2.8 goals. By league standards, that would rank them 8th overall and it’s more than a half-goal better than the 3.3 GPG Edmonton was allowing before Woodcroft’s arrival.

  • Edmonton’s power play is 24.2% and penalty kill 82.5% under HC Woodcroft

Woodcroft won the Pacific Division championship last season with the Bakersfield Condors and with Mike Smith’s recent Vezina form (9-0, 1.66 GAA and .951 SVP + 2 shutouts), the Oilers have all the tools.

Minnesota Wild +1400

The Wild have endured a grueling path down the backstretch to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it could have this team battle-hardened for its opening round matchup.

  • The Wild are 19-6 SU at home vs. teams that average more than 30 shots on goal per game

Minnesota is 6-1 SU in its past seven home dates vs. winning teams, have proven talent between the pipes in Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury, and they’re getting healthy. Great components for any team entering the playoff fray.  

Familiar Faces

All four teams in this group have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup at least once in the past 13 years.

New York Rangers +1400

The Rangers are young and talented, but they do not resemble a team that has the strength and grit to advance in this tournament. Keep in mind, this is New York’s first trip to the postseason since the 2016-17 season.

  • At 26.6 years, the Rangers represent the youngest roster of all 16 playoff teams in 2021-22

New York has stumbled in recent matchups with the Habs, Hurricanes and Bruins, and while it might seem easy for a veteran squad to flip a switch once the stakes are raised, this doesn’t feel like that kind of team. Look for them to stretch a series to six or even seven games, but fall short of the second round.

Boston Bruins +1500

The defensive stalwart Bruins are #4 in the league with a 2.6 GAA and they are 50-9 SU this season, on an 18-6 UNDER run when holding an opponent to three goals or less. We’re not talking about cream puffs either. Four of Boston’s past six wins were against playoff teams (Panthers, Rangers, Blues, Penguins). They also beat the Lightning 2-1 on April 8.

  • Stanley Cup Playoffs betting tip: Look for opportunities to bet the Bruins UNDER in early round matchups when the posted total is 5.5 goals or greater.

St. Louis Blues +1800

The Blues won their one and only Stanley Cup in 2019, and since then suffered brutal back-to-back opening round playoff losses to the Canucks and Avalanche.

  • St. Louis is 2-8 in the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

Renowned for its ability to grind out close wins, St. Louis ranked third in the NHL this season with 28 wins by a margin of three goals or more. Only Florida (31) and Calgary (30) had more.

  • Husso owns a .921 save percentage, tied for 6th best behind a list of Vezina candidates

The Blues head into their final game of the season (4/29) riding a 12-1-2 hot streak and Ville Husso (2.47 GAA, 9th) is one of the league’s sharpest goalies.

Pittsburgh Penguins +2200

Starting goaltender Tristan Jarry sustained an injury to his right foot during a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders April 16, and there is still no timetable for his return. Jarry ranked 6th overall with a 2.42 GAA, and his .919 save percentage was up with the likes of Igor Shesterkin, Jacob Markstrom and Darcy Kuemper.

  • Current No. 1 goalie Casey DeSmith set a Penguins franchise record with a 52-save shutout vs. the Bruins April 21

DeSmith is the starter for now and the fourth-year pro has looked good, but everyone in the Steel City would like to see Jarry back on the ice. The Pens are heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 16th consecutive season and they’ll need depth for an extended run.

Dark Horses in the Race

Betting on the Stanley Cup Playoffs means taking a shot with underdogs when the time is right. And while it’s a longshot that one of these four will actually win the Cup, there will be plenty of opportunities to back these clubs at plus money, perhaps even in an opening round series bet.

Washington Capitals +3000

All season long, the scoring watch was fixed on Alex Ovechkin’s (50 G, 40 A) hike up the list of NHL scoring leaders. He surpassed Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr this year and at 780 goals, the Great 8 is within reach of Mr. Hockey (801 goals) next year.

Right now, Ovie is on the sidelines after getting tripped into the boards by Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren. They’re calling it an upper body injury and while Ovechkin has started to skate, there’s no telling when he’ll rejoin the lineup.

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Nashville Predators +4000

The Preds lead the NHL in hits per game with 30.2 and they’ll look to play a physical brand of hockey in a tough first round matchup against one of the league’s elite offenses. The Preds are locked into a Wild Card spot but as of this writing, their first round matchup is still unknown (either Calgary or Colorado). Editor’s note: Nashville is facing Colorado in Round 1 and the Avs are listed as -530 moneyline favorites.

Starting goalie Juuse Saros was injured Tuesday in a 5-4 OT loss to the Flames and it puts David Rittich under pressure for Round 1. Nashville recalled Connor Ingram from the AHL as backup but either way, this team’s odds of advancing go from slim to none without Saros.

Dallas Stars +5000

No team seeded No. 7 or 8 in the modern Wild Card era (since 2013) has won the Stanley Cup. If you’re betting on the Stars to become the first, bookies will give you 50-1 odds. Nashville made it to the Finals as a Wild Card in 2017, losing 4-2 vs. the Penguins, and if you’re taking a shot on Dallas winning the West, the payback is 25-1.

  • The Stars are the only playoff team this year with a losing road record (19-20-2)

Dallas missed the postseason last year but they were in the Cup Finals two years ago vs. Tampa Bay, losing in six. This team is #21 in scoring with 2.8 GPG and #15 in goals against (3.0). There are a lot of caution flags surrounding the Stars.

Los Angeles Kings +5000

The Kings earned two Cups with Darryl Sutter at the helm in 2012 and -14. Dustin Brown was there for both of them, and the 18-year LA veteran announced this week that he’ll be hanging up the blades following this year’s playoffs.

  • Since winning the Cup in 2014-15, the Kings are 1-8 in the NHL Playoffs

Brown leads the franchise with 1,296 all-time regular season games played and although Los Angeles faces a mighty task, opening against red-hot Edmonton, the Oilers cannot take this team lightly or they might end up a Round 1 casualty. Brown is a living legend with the Kings, and the right combination of chemistry plus emotion can carry teams a long way in hockey.

  • Kings G Quick has won 5-straight starts, allowing just eight goals in 300 minutes

LA posted 23 road wins this year, and a winning record each month since November. They have veteran leadership on this team who know what it takes to win a Cup, and lead by example. One of those players is Jonathan Quick, who is in the midst of a season-high five-game win streak. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Oilers were swept in last year’s playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets. Edmonton is a more complete team now, but the Kings won’t back down from a challenge.

I’ll have NHL Playoff picks every day from now to the Stanley Cup Finals. Book a winning package and don’t miss a single play as we watch to see who will win the Cup!